Mark 9:38-50

I’m not sure whether I’m reassured or completely overwhelmed with grief as I listen to John in verse 38.  On the one hand, I can see that even John the disciple – one of the “big three” with James and Peter – was petty and exclusivist about his discipleship.  On the other hand EVEN JOHN!!, was petty and exclusivist about his discipleship.  What hope is there for us?  Jesus does, here, something so many of us – his erstwhile ‘followers’ – often fail to do.  He focuses on his mission.  He knows that it’s about freeing people from demons, removing stumbling blocks, and offering sustenance and aid to those who are living lives of trust and service.  It’s not about jersey (or skin!) color, party affiliation, national origin, or denominational loyalty.  It’s about freedom and service.  If you have a problem with that, he says, if you can’t get past the stumbling blocks, you need to do something radical and painful to get on the right path.  Discipleship is serious business.  It demands serious practitioners.  What will our congregational life look like if we spend our time and energy finding ways to bring freedom and service to those who need them most?  What stumbling blocks must we remove?  Are there stumbling blocks and millstones in our lives that are stopping us from living as the disciples Jesus calls us to be?